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Running from Faith? Courage!

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Author: Kenny Clark

Running from Faith: Courage


Id just gotten cozy while approaching my destination. I had sincere reservations while pulling up to a parking space above the lake as the grayish water contrasted the swelling white caps. That gusting noreaster hit 35 mph, slowing to a rather pedestrian 25 mph from time to time. The thermometer on my car console read 36. Did I mention the steady drizzle? Somehow, an innate sense of courage came into play.


It took less than two minutes for my fingers to saturate and ache of impending numbness. A desire for balance made me lean slightly into the fierce gust while allowing the bill of my cap to shield my eyes from the raindrops angling into my face.


By the time I reached eight miles on the 15k loop, the north wind sent a continuous assault into my face. Overall, I wasnt certain I could keep running at all. In the end I had a damp face, wringing cap, and tremendous sense of accomplishment. Id shown courage in getting out there on a day without another person in sight.


With most aspects of life, a moment occurs when we face the weight of the situation. We can take a sigh of relief as we retreat into our comfort zone. Or we can take a sigh born from anxiety and see of what were made. The choice comes down to courage.


Courage can seem the opposite of fear, as if a binary relationship. The truth: lack of fear can only compare to incompetence, an inability to recognize basic realities. Even though the idea of living life without fear defines part of the current pop culture, the concept equates to quintessential false self.


Courage may manifest innate, but its our choice to seize it. And like most things we have the ability to command, wielding that power provides something we need to practice. Without repetition, most things become dormant. If a runner doesnt train, he becomes unfit, out of shape. Courage operates in the same manner. Avant-Garde novelist Anais Nin said it succinctly. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage.


Courage presents a challenge as we rise each day. Without fully realizing it, weve agreed to step out of our comfort zone before we even rub the blur from our eyes and squeeze out the toothpaste. Its said our attitude represents the only thing we can truly control. The exclusiveness of this statement may or may not be accurate, but the essence is worthy.


This is a concept runners should fully grasp. We display a level of courage simply in getting out there. We overcome challenges on many different levels; time constraints, stresses from work or home, weather issues. The act of running allows us to practice our courage on a small scale each day. A good run truly brings us closer to God.


So why do we fail to develop that same sense of rhythm in other aspects of our lives? I believe the common phrase we use to describe this phenomenon is appropriately termed . . . hitting our stride. We all define life, for good reason, as unpredictable. This uncertainty unnerves us because we fail to realize control is the ultimate illusion. Were so busy struggling, that rising to the occasion and experiencing our own God-given abilities seems rare.


Feeling whole comes from God, as Hes the only one thats truly in control. He intends us to use His strength to overcome, to elevate to the level of His design. We feel somethings missing because without the Holy Spirit actively residing in our hearts, something is missing. As it says in a poignant anonymous quote, It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are. That courage comes through God.


Our lives are meant to produce positive results. Yet weve lost our way. As a people, weve fallen. Eventually, we settle for something less than our true selves by His design. What we experience, then, exists as the classification of our comfort zone. With more than a little help, we believe these experiences represent the zenith. With only a whisper in our hearts, Satan convinces us we cant accomplish more.


          Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the

talent to the dark places where it leads.

          Erica Jong


What this wonderful quote says may seem easy to dismiss. That would yield to the little voice in our heads that lies to us every day. It tells us our lives remain sufficient, that our potential is fallacious. No such dark places exist for us to advance toward, to view with trepidation, so long as we stay safely hidden in our comfort zone.


God defines the way to more. He completes us all. Because this mundane existence encompasses what we know, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to break away from it, to accept God as the way and to seek His guidance. Its gone so far astray that this very idea feels unnatural. As our creation dictates connection with God, the idea that we fail to feel it shows we indeed reside on the battlefront.


We need courage to find our true design in order to fight this battle with God as our guide. Because of spiritual warfare, the areas where He challenges us mirror what we unwittingly come to know as our shortcomings. When Satan attacks us, he wont bother with superficial wounds. Hes going to go straight to the heart. The wound will go to where it can do the most damage. As John Eldredge wrote:


          The wound is too well aimed and far too consistent to be

accidental. It is an attempt to take you out; to cripple or destroy

your strength and get you out of the game. The wounds weve

taken were leveled against us with stunning accuracy.


Satan strikes to wound the strength God gave each of us, our gifts. The deceiver wants us to stay in our small lives. Many of us stand at the battlefront defenseless while the enemy bombards us.


Much like training as a runner, nothing worthwhile comes in life without a sacrifice. Courage represents a large part of what gets us there. We can experience the same kind of confidence through our completeness with God. Having a meaningful relationship with God gives us confidence to face each day with strength. Obstacles blossom into opportunities. With His light shining, we begin to learn the difference between His encouragement and the lies we hear as a whisper. Every day, were able to move forward one stride at a time. Life transcends to a good run because were mentally and spiritually in shape.


The difference represents Gods love. As it says in John 1:16, From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. To deny it leads to the path of emptiness. It means something is missing that is supposed to exist there. Your car can run without an air filter, even for a brief time without oil. Neither is advisable. The system, according to design, is incomplete.


Exercising courage leads to positive places in life. As U.S. Representative Clare Booth Luce said, Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount. Faith cannot exist without courage, much like a runner cannot continue to train without courage. Absence of courage would then mean that a runner fails to train at all, and is therefore not a runner. Much like an agnostic avoids committing to anything and in theory believes nothing; the easy path finds more travelers. Circumventing a decision is still a decision in itself. Acting other than courageously fails to keep us safe in our comfort zone. In the end, its the more dangerous place.

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